These days, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, most so-called “527” groups — able to accept unlimited contributions and hide the sources of their donations — have taken to helping their favorite candidates and attacking their opponents in political advertisements.
Not Newt Gingrich’s 527 group. The vast majority of expenses by American Solutions for Winning the Future from April-June 2010 went towards promoting both the organization itself and one man: Newt Gingrich.
American Solutions spent at least $2.3 million on fundraising activities, travel expenses and direct marketing in the months of April, May and June — including over $1.4 million on direct marketing alone — according to an analysis by TPMMuckraker. That’s the majority of the $3.2 million the group spent altogether. The group took in $3.4 million in donations during that period.
The AP found in an earlier review that American Solutions spent nearly all of the $20 million it has raised in the past two years on administrative and travel expenses.Meanwhile, Gingrich’s nonprofit group Renewing American Leadership, though it was started in March 2009, has not yet filed a tax return.
While many 527 groups have racked up costs in advertising on behalf of their favorite candidates and against their opponents, the only advertising expenditures Gingrich’s groups seemed to have made in that three month period was $36,683 paid to Google, potentially for Google Ads.
Gingrich’s group spent $726,961 on travel — including $677,539 for private jets flights supplied by Moby Dick Airways Ltd. — in that timeframe. As the the Associated Press reported, American Solutions spent $2.2 million over the past two years just on private jets and chauffeurs.
American Solutions also spent $2,177 on “Donor Events” (likely gifts) at Mount Vernon Gift Shop and $7,794 at Amazon — just around the time Newt’s book “To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine” hit the virtual shelves. Funds also went to the pockets of various political consulting companies like Todd Domke and Associates — many of which are owned by former staffers of Gingrich.
American Solutions and Renewing American Leadership — which asked donors to give money to help stop the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” — are just a part of Gingrich’s portfolio. Looking at the expenses of the groups, the Center for Responsive Politics Executive Director Sheila Krumholz told the AP it amounts to “kind of self-promotion engine.” The AP described Gingrich’s various affiliations as a “sprawling empire of commercial and nonprofit ventures that often intersect, blurring the boundaries of his public and private roles.”
The scope of Gingrich’s promotion empire is especially relevant in light of the role Gingrich has played in raising the threat of Islam as a threat to America. As TPM has documented, Gingrich has called for a federal ban on Sharia law, and Gingrich’s production company teamed with Citizens United to produce a documentary on the supposed threat of Islam in America.
One Muslim group said that the “hateful rhetoric that is being spewed by people like Newt Gingrich and then being amplified by mainstream media outlets poses a grave danger to the safety and well-being of everyday Muslim Americans.”
Megan Carpentier and Johanna Burr contributed reporting.